Thailand – The Military Draft for Transgenders

In Thailand, teens are required to register for the military enlistment before they turn 18 years old. They are summoned to the military conscription lottery when they are turning 21. If they draw a black card, they go home but if they draw red, they enter the service for two years.

Young trans women do not identify as men, yet every year, Thais who are born as men and over 21 years old must attend the draft day where they draw lots to determine whether they need to enlist themselves in the military for two years.

In the recent past, trans women were often subjected to verbal and physical abuse by the officers and other men.

Also, the media used to portray such news in a humorous way, some of them even causing more stress to young transgender recruits by making fun of their particular situation.
Hopefully, education and understanding have improved and stopped these practices, highlight their challenges and plight instead.

A decade ago, transgenderism was designated a mental illness by the military, which could create problems including future employment prospects.
It took a six-year fight by a trans women’s community before the Administrative Court ordered the designation changed to someone whose gender doesn’t match with their sex, or gender dysphoria, so that trans draftees could be exempted.

Katoey is the Thai word to address a Transgender woman

Watch this short documentary to understand more:


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